ACLU Warns Congress Not to Legalize Warrantless Wiretapping

October 31, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – As the Senate Judiciary Committee met to hear testimony on the FISA Amendment Act, the American Civil Liberties Union once again voiced its opposition to the proposed legislation and called for strict Fourth Amendment protections. The legislation contains some of the same language as the so-called Protect America Act, including “basket warrants” that give federal agents the power to intercept Americans’ communications without the individual warrants that the Fourth Amendment requires. The FISA Amendment Act also includes a provision that would grant telecommunications companies immunity for their role in the administration’s domestic spying program.

Also today, the American Civil Liberties Union, Move, People For the American Way and bloggers from Open Left, Salon, Fire Dog Lake and others delivered petitions to Senate and House offices signed by over 250,000 Americans who oppose granting amnesty to the telecom companies that violated the Fourth Amendment and their privacy.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“After months of stonewalling, the administration has dangled a tiny carrot in front of Senate Committees in an effort to lure Congress into granting immunity for the administration’s partners-in-crime, the telecommunications companies. Legal documents were subpoenaed months ago to no avail and, now the administration is coughing up just enough to get their pals out of legal trouble. We can only assume that these documents implicate the phone companies or they wouldn’t need retroactive immunity.

“Between lobbying for telecom immunity, minimizing the involvement of the FISA court and invoking the state secrets privilege whenever challenged, the administration will effectively cut out any oversight of its domestic eavesdropping. This program was exposed nearly two years ago and roundly criticized. Now Congress is poised to legalize warrantless surveillance, and let the telecommunications companies off the hook to boot. Americans won’t stand for cutting deals for criminals.”

To read more about the ACLU’s work on FISA, go to:

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